Our Dangerous Friend

David Jefford Ward

Our Dangerous Friend

Bushfire Philosophy in South West Australia

In a world where global wildfires increasingly dominate the news headlines, can the Australian experience help? The management of fire in the southern continent is, after all, based on some 40,000 years or more of practice.

Australian bushfire is a dangerous friend, but are scientific papers written and refereed by non-Aboriginal scientists the most reliable form of information on any aspect of this natural phenomenon?

This book, through a series of essays, suggests that the indigenous Noongar people of south-west Australia deliberately used fire for a very, very long time to manage ecosystems for their safety and convenience, and, significantly, for the conservation of nature. Throughout, the essays suggest that any of non-Aboriginal descent should listen to the Elders, take heed from their past use of fire and once more harness the elemental force to judiciously conserve plant and animal life, let alone protect human lives and habitats.

Aboriginal songlines with their reach back into distant antiquity, might well be a more reliable source of bushfire ecology than refereed scientific papers, some of which might be leading us up a garden path. A path that in comparison has but a scant few hundred years’ worth of knowledge.